When Africans were brought to Virginia in bondage back in August 1619, it set in motion 400 years of African American history, both trauma and triumph.
Yet experts say the stain of slavery still lingers — be it psychological damage or economic inequality — impacting people of African descent today.
“We have to address the 'lie' that Black people are inferior,” said Enola Aird, Esq., who founded the Community Healing Network in 2006. “It’s existed for centuries due to white supremacy, and it’s not true.”
In tandem with the Association of Black Psychologists, the Community Healing Network is leading the 'Global Truth Campaign and Tour.' Aird says the goal is to “heal the wounds of racism and create a new culture of emotional healing, wellness, and empowerment in Black communities.”
They’ve brought that message to the campus of Virginia Union University this week (Aug. 20-22) for the 2019 Valuing Black Lives Summit. Events will include 'Emotional Emancipation' circles for forgiveness and healing, a walk that honors the ancestors, and declarations of freedom for the past, present, and future of the community.
It’s just one of many game-changing efforts by visionary leaders nationwide, who are pushing to develop deeper gains for African Americans.
For instance, Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization, helping people respond to injustice in the country and the world. Higher Heights is backing Black female political candidates, tapping the powerful ‘sista’ voting bloc. Post White House, Barack and Michelle Obama are leading initiatives in the U.S. and Africa that uplift youth, promote education, foster civic engagement and more.
Recently, the BMe Community, a network of innovators, leaders, and champions who invest in aspiring communities, launched the “Next Narrative for Black America.”
It will include fellowships to train Black leaders across the country in “narrative change.” The campaign aspires to shift the discussion of racial equity from one based in denigrating distortions, to one centered on the Black community’s assets and contributions to society.
“In the 400 years since enslaved Africans were brought to America, Black people have worked diligently to secure physical and legal freedom but are still bound by these inaccurate and stigmatizing narratives,” said Trabian Shorters, Founder and CEO of BMecommunity. “We have literally always been ‘assets’ to this nation, so in this new millennium dawning, we must own our value and our narrative so that this nation may finally value all members of the human family.”
BMe is inviting Black leaders from all sectors of society to collaborate at the 'Next Narrative for Black America Conference' in Louisville, Kentucky October 24-26, 2019.
Ahead of the conference, leaders around the country will be consulted about what priorities the agenda should tackle. Following the conference, a position paper will be drafted based on their insight.
Rev. Dr. Claude Alexander, Jr. is another changemaker committed to elevating African Americans. He’s spent his life serving God, family and the community.
The longtime senior pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina has grown the congregation from 600 people to thousands of members with global reach.
Now Bishop Alexander has launched the R400 Movement, a consortium of individuals, civic groups, corporations, government entities and faith-based organizations. The goal is to 'Reconnect, Reclaim, Reconcile, and Rebuild’ a thriving Pan-African future for the next 400 years.
“It’s a call to action for people of African descent to reconnect with our brethren in the African continent and re-engage around our African identities and collective interests,” he said. “We want the movement to create a transatlantic pipeline between Africa and the African Diaspora of North America.”
The inaugural R400 Summit is slated for September 27-29, 2019 at The Park Expo and Conference Center in Charlotte. The gathering is expected to bring together delegations and allies representing Africa and the African Diaspora for three days of symposia, activities and events.
Topics will run the gamut from technology, agriculture, trade and commerce to arts/entertainment, culture and faith.
“The overall aim is developing a high integrity African/African Diaspora compact that is focused on solutions,” said Alexander.
Organizers say the summit has received full endorsement from the African Union (AU), which represents 55 African countries.
Back in May, ambassadors from Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Mauritius were among those who visited the U.S. to meet Charlotte’s Mayor, Vi Lyles, and the local business community.
This year’s summit will kick off a series of gatherings in America and across the sea, including a trip to Ghana in 2020.
“We will exchange information, form strategic partnerships and celebrate our culture while honoring the ancestors,” said Alexander.
(Photo: Angelo Scarlato)